My Grandma died last Monday. She was 78. My mom’s mom, she was always my young vibrant Grandma, younger than everyone else’s (she had 3 kids by the time she was 20). She was a fireball – a woman who loved so hard, worked so hard, had been through so much, and maintained a sense of style and awesome sense of humor through it all. She always, always said exactly what came to mind and lacked a filter to a fault – which could be hard, but that was just what made grandma, grandma. I remember when we were trying to have kids at Thanksgiving one year (a year and a half in or so) and she asked, “where are the kids, hun? This ain’t right.” and I ran to the bathroom and cried. It broke my heart. She loved little kids so much, I’ve never seen a grandma who was just bonkers over kids like she was. As long as her body allowed it she was right down on the ground playing cars (ud-nud-nud-ing and vrooming) with her great-grandkids. I’m so glad that my kids got to meet her, though I’m not sure how well they will remember her. She always had gifts she picked up at “the goodwill” for the kids, bags and bags full of them – which both made me sigh because the kids didn’t need any more and they were often the wrong age range, but I just smiled and said thank you, because buying for them was what kept her happy and knowing we have her last haul that she brought 4 hours up to Kate’s birthday makes me very, very sad.
She had a nickname for everybody – I was “Netter” my sister “Emmerrrrrrr” and we were her only two granddaughters in a sea of grandsons. Every time we saw her, whoever had the longest hair was her favorite and she told us both and we would giggle about it. I don’t think we were the kind of granddaughters she ever expected to have, two tall, athletic, tomboyish girls but we knew we were loved fiercely and she was proud of us.
Her health had been declining over the last few years, but she wasn’t actively fighting anything at the moment. It was a shock. She had been through cancer and chemo, was hospitalized for a month with pneumonia, but through it all she would show up to family events with a smile and a laugh. She was a one of a kind, sweet, hilarious woman and I will miss her dearly.
I got the news last Monday around 8 am that she was gone. She had a heart attack and didn’t make it. I was crying and walking around the house in a haze ~ she had called me the week before and I never got back to her. I felt awful that I’d missed my chance and now I’d never get to talk to her again because I was “too busy”. I packed up the kids and my stuff and we drove down to Indiana to be with my family. I was crying off and on and Leopold kept trying to make me happy and I said sometimes it’s okay to cry and be sad. I explained to him again what happened and he suddenly understood death. He was bawling and said “But I’m not going to die! I’m going to live forever and ever and so are you!” No, buddy, no one lives forever. I told him it was Grandma’s mommy who died and he said. “well we have to get her a new one. Because everybody needs a Mommy. We love the mommies.” At the visitation, after he saw the body, my sweet sensitive boy bawled off and on for 30 minutes and said “I just didn’t want her to die and be gone forever.” Watching my son grapple with mortality and react so emotionally to it all was very hard, I just didn’t expect him to get it like he did.
Love you, Grandma. We will miss you dearly.
I could keep talking about my Grandma and memories and thoughts and feelings for a long time. But, I’m trying to head out the door for a run to clear my head and get back into a groove. It’s good to be back home and get back to normal after a hard, emotional week. I’m going to miss my grandma something awful, but I know it’s only an iota of what my mom and aunt are feeling. I want to focus more on seeing family and spending quality time with them. I have one great-grandma left (she is 98!) that I need to see and Carlos has a Grandma and Grandpa up in Minnesota we really need to see soon.
How did you talk to your kids about death and dying?
How did your priorities or outlook change after the death of a loved one?